Global Shares Advance Amid Strong Earnings

By Kenan Machado Features Dow Jones Newswires

Equities continued to rise Tuesday, with Asian stocks starting August widely higher during what has been a strong earnings season so far.

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But there has been caution that further declines in the U.S. dollar, near its lowest levels in a year, could crimp results. A weaker dollar could make Asian exports less competitive over time.

Korea led the way in Asia, where the Kospi stock benchmark had been logging record highs before a pause capped by Friday's 1.7% slide, its biggest of 2017.

But the index rebounded 0.9%, with index heavyweight Samsung recovering 0.7% after recent weakness. Meanwhile, Asiana and Korean Air each rose some 2%.

Australian stocks were also strong early Tuesday, helped by continued gains in commodity prices. After equities there lagged behind again in July, the S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.5%, with miners and oil firms including Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and Woodside Petroleum gaining more than 1%.

Overnight, oil prices hit fresh two-month highs, enabling U.S. and international crude benchmarks to post their biggest monthly gains of 2017 in July. Prices were little changed in Asia.

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Stock gains were more modest in places including China, Japan and Hong Kong. Tokyo equities continued to be capped by the weaker dollar; it was recently around Yen110.30 and overnight neared Yen110.00.

Later Tuesday, the latest policy statement from Australia's central bank is due. While no policy change is expected, the focus is on how hard commentary might be regarding the Australian dollar's recent gains.

The currency is well above the central bank's "equilibrium level," National Australia Bank says. The Australian dollar was steadily gaining on Tuesday in Asia, rising some 0.5% on the session versus most major currencies.

Write to Kenan Machado at kenan.machado@wsj.com

Equity markets continued to be supported by strong earnings and higher commodity prices on Tuesday.

The Stoxx 600 Europe rose 0.2% in morning trading ahead of a reading on eurozone growth, while the FTSE 100 was up 0.5%.

Adding to raft of earnings reports, energy giant BP PLC rose 2.5% after the company returned to profitability in the second quarter on recovering oil prices. That helped boost the Stoxx 600 Europe Oil and Gas sector 0.9%.

British aircraft-engine maker Rolls Royce Holdings PLC also reported positive earnings after posting a first-half net profit, sending its shares up 6.6%.

"Equities are in an earnings driven market, surprising to the upside," said Terry Sandven, chief equity strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management.

Improvement in a closely watched private gauge of manufacturing in China helped Asian shares gain. The reading from Caixan and IHS Markit rose for a second straight month in July and hit the highest level since March. In contrast, Monday's government reading slowed slightly.

"Today's unofficial PMI suggests that manufacturing activity has held up better than previously thought and points to a pickup in economic growth last month," said Julian Evans-Pritchard at Capital Economics.

Chinese stocks were already higher ahead of the report, and the Shanghai Composite Index was last up 0.6% after four consecutive sessions of gains. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index hit fresh two-year highs, rising 0.7%, moving closer to 2015's peak.

Commodities also continued to climb Tuesday as global and U.S. oil benchmarks added to more than a week straight of gains.

That all helped push Australia's S&P/ASX 200 up 0.9% after the index lagged once again in July. Commodities-focused stocks were posting outsize gains, with Woodside Petroleum rising 2.3%.

Australia's central bank on Tuesday warned over recent strength in the Australian dollar and left its cash rate target on hold at a record.

The currency is well above the central bank's "equilibrium level," National Australia Bank said.

Korean stocks were also strong on Tuesday. The Kospi was up 0.8% amid gains in index heavyweight Samsung as well as carriers Asiana and Korean Air.

Japan's Nikkei rose just 0.3% as Tokyo equities continued to be capped by the weaker dollar; it was recently around Yen110.20.

The WSJ Dollar Index, which tracks the dollar against a basket of 16 currencies, was last up 0.1% after settling at its lowest since August.

Grace Zhu contributed to this article.

Write to Kenan Machado at kenan.machado@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 01, 2017 04:02 ET (08:02 GMT)